Posted on: Wednesday, January 17, 2001
Akule not endangered in Island waters
By Henry Okamoto
It is unfortunate the public was misinformed about the akule resource in Antonio Ramos Jr.s Dec. 29 letter, "We must protect islands akule."
I am not an akule net fisherman, but I did considerable study on the akule resources and have provided factual information to the public in the past. Although scientists presently agree the akule resource is healthy and is not being over-exploited, it seems Ramos thinks otherwise and provides incorrect information.
Granted, net fishing is highly efficient and catches a lot more fish than by hooking. However, one must understand that the akule is a very popular commercial food fish and its retail price is generally affordable to the public; depending on supply, however, the price varies.
In my study of akule, I found the akule reach reproductive size when they are about 1 year old, and the lifespan of the fish is about three years. Further, I found the fish spawn seasonally. I doubt the fish spawn more than once a year. Based on scientific evidence, I find it biologically impossible for the akule to spawn six times, as suggested by Ramos.
The state began documenting commercial akule landings from 1948, and early annual landing data, especially in the 50s, suggested a declining population. That prompted us to conduct an akule study. It took us a long time to come up with critical biological answers. However, as some of our resource users are aware, fishery resource management oftentimes is not based on factual scientific findings, but rather based on politics.
A good example is the proposed resource management for the Waimea Bay area. At a public hearing concerning resource management there, about 30 recreational fishermen testified in favor of only allowing hook fishing in the bay, but only a single net fisherman testified it was unfair to him. And I understand the "fishermen-unfriendly" Department of Land and Natural Resources is planing to completely ban fishing in the bay to make it equal for everyone: Nobody fishes.
It is a shame when one fisherman unwittingly criticizes how other fishermen harvest the same resource he catches; he chokes his own neck, and that is exactly what the anti-fishing environmentalists want the fishing community to do, kill each other, so they can implement their agenda to ban fishing in Hawaii.
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